Lisa MacLeod

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Lisa MacLeod

Ontario Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
Assumed office
June 29, 2018
PremierDoug Ford
Preceded byMichael Coteau[a]
Ontario Minister Responsible for Women's Issues
Assumed office
June 29, 2018
PremierDoug Ford
Preceded byHarinder Malhi[b]
Member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament
for Nepean
Nepean—Carleton (2006—2018)
Assumed office
March 30, 2006
Preceded byJohn Baird
Personal details
Born (1974-10-29) October 29, 1974 (age 44)
New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Canada
Political partyProgressive Conservative
Spouse(s)Joseph Varner (m. c. 2002)[1]
ResidenceOttawa, Ontario, Canada
Alma materSt. Francis Xavier University
OccupationPolitical aide

Lisa MacLeod MPP (born 1974) is a Canadian politician serving as a Progressive Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Elected in a by-election in 2006, she represents the riding of Nepean and, since 2018, serves as the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services in Doug Ford's cabinet.


Macleod was born on October 29, 1974,[citation needed] in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.[2] She went to St. Francis Xavier University where she obtained a degree in political science.[3] She moved to Ottawa in 1998 with a goal of becoming involved in politics.[4] She worked as an assistant to Ottawa City Councillor Jan Harder and as a riding assistant to federal Member of Parliament (MP) Pierre Poilievre.[5][6] She is married to Joseph Varner and they have one daughter, Victoria. Varner was a candidate in the 2003 provincial election but lost to Richard Patten.[5]


Macleod was elected to the Ontario legislature in a by-election that was held to replace John Baird who resigned to run for the federal House of Commons. She won the election on March 30, 2006, beating her Liberal opponent Brian Ford in the Ottawa-area riding of Nepean—Carleton by a margin of 6,000 votes.[7] She was re-elected in 2007, 2011, and 2014.[8][9][10]

In 2007 MacLeod was satirized by Liberal strategist Warren Kinsella when she was mockingly portrayed in a spoofed picture suggesting she would rather be at home baking cookies than attending a political event with then PC Leader John Tory. Kinsella later removed the posting and apologized to MacLeod. Following the incident MacLeod wrote a cookbook called I'd Rather Be Baking Cookies: A Collection of Recipes from Lisa MacLeod and Friends. Macleod said, "Why not play off that experience, make a cookbook and poke fun at the absurdity of it?" The money raised from the sale of the cookbooks went to her election campaign.[11]

In 2012, she criticized Dalton McGuinty's Bill 13 legislation as being "unfair" to Catholic separate school boards because it forced them to allow gay–straight alliances. She labelled the Liberals as "bullies".[12]

In April 2014, Premier Kathleen Wynne launched a libel lawsuit against MacLeod and PC Party Leader Tim Hudak after they said that she "oversaw and possibly ordered the criminal destruction of [gas plant] documents."[13] In July 2015, Wynne, MacLeod, and Hudak reached an agreement whereby the lawsuit was dropped. They said in a joint statement,

Politics is not for the thin-skinned. However, our system also requires that politicians act honestly and based on fact, while respecting the views of others. ... In the lead-up to the last election the debate went beyond differences over our approach and at times became personal. The lawsuit between us, and the comments that led to it, did not reflect our view that the other is in fact a great mother/father, an honourable person and a dedicated public servant.

The statement avoided any apology or placement of blame.[14]

MacLeod announced her candidacy for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party on October 6, 2014, but withdrew on February 6, 2015, following federal cabinet minister John Baird's announcement that he was resigning from cabinet and would not be running for re-election to the House of Commons of Canada. MacLeod told reporters that she has been "under enormous pressure from my constituents to seek the federal nomination to replace John Baird", in the new riding of Nepean.[15] MacLeod decided not to seek Baird's seat in the House of Commons and remained at Queen's Park.[16]

In July 2014, Macleod became the party's critic for Treasury Board issues, and in October of that year, she became the Vice-Chair for the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. She was Critic for Digital Government from June 2016 until February 2017, when she became the party' critic for Ottawa issues and the Anti-Racism Secretariat.[17] In January 2018, after party leader Patrick Brown stepped down and Vic Fedeli became leader, Macleod was chosen to replace Fedeli as the party's finance critic.[18]

In the 2018 provincial election, MacLeod won all the polls in Nepean, and won the riding with 45.2 per cent of the vote. NDP candidate Zaff Ansari came in second and Liberal candidate Lovina Srivastsva came in third. On June 29, 2018, it was announced she would be the minister responsible for children, community, and social services, and Minister Responsible for woman's issues. In total she has five portfolios including immigration and anti-racism.

As Social Services Minister, MacLeod admitted to breaking a Progressive Conservative election promise by cutting the Ontario Basic Income Pilot Project on July 31, 2018.[19][20]

On February 6, 2019, MacLeod announced sweeping changes to the Ontario Autism Program intended to clear long waitlists by redistributing program funds. No new funds were added to the program budget, and MacLeod and her parliamentary assistant Amy Fee faced immediate backlash from parents and service providers including provincewide protests.[21]

On February 13, 2019, the National Post reported that Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysts (ONTABA) had received a threatening message from MacLeod's office. In the email ONTABA was directed to make a public statement in support of the changes to Ontario Autism Program or face "four long years". MacLeod further threatened that if the message of support was not forthcoming, her office would release a press statement labelling ONTABA as "self-interested".[22] Immediate calls for MacLeod's resignation were rebuffed by the minister.[23]

Electoral record[edit]

Ontario general election, 2018: Nepean
Party Candidate Votes %
Progressive Conservative Lisa MacLeod 23,899 45.13%
New Democratic Zaff Ansari 15,110 28.53%
Liberal Lovina Srivastava 10,383 19.61%
Green James O'Grady 2,739 5.17%
Libertarian Mark A. Snow 415 0.78%
None of the Above Raphael Louis 351 0.66%
Objective Truth Derrick Lionel Matthews 60 0.11%
Total valid votes 52,957 100.00
Turnout 60.3
Eligible voters 87,778
Progressive Conservative pickup new district.
Source: Elections Ontario[24]
Ontario general election, 2014: Nepean—Carleton
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Progressive Conservative Lisa MacLeod 30,901 46.77 −7.71
Liberal Jack Uppal 21,974 33.26 +6.29
New Democratic Ric Dagenais 8,628 13.06 −1.71
Green Gordon Kubanek 3,630 5.49 +2.51
Libertarian Coreen Corcoran 940 1.42 +1.01
Total valid votes 66,073 100.0   +20.00
Progressive Conservative hold Swing −7.00
Elections Ontario (2014). "Official result from the records – 052, Nepean—Carleton" (PDF). Retrieved 27 June 2015.
Ontario general election, 2011: Nepean—Carleton
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Progressive Conservative Lisa MacLeod 29,985 54.48 +4.20 $   61,855.47
Liberal Don Dransfield 14,844 26.97 −5.97 20,300.63
New Democratic Ric Dagenais 8,127 14.77 +7.34 18,039.80
Green Gordon Kubanek 1,641 2.98 −5.38 2,855.87
Libertarian Roger Toutant 223 0.41   0.00
Freedom Marco Rossi 217 0.39   0.00
Total valid votes / Expense limit 55,037 100.0   +2.23 $ 131,703.25
Total rejected, unmarked and declined ballots 193 0.35 −0.17
Turnout 55,230 49.91 −4.70
Eligible voters 110,662   +11.69
Progressive Conservative hold Swing +5.09
Ontario general election, 2007: Nepean—Carleton
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Progressive Conservative Lisa MacLeod 27,070 50.28 −7.29 $   58,239.69
Liberal Jai Aggarwal 17,731 32.94 +1.50 35,359.08
Green Gordon Kubanek 4,500 8.36 +6.25 3,130.46
New Democratic Tristan Maack 4,000 7.43 −0.84 11,543.93
Family Coalition Suzanne Fortin 533 0.99   0.00
Total valid votes/Expense limit 53,834 100.0   +79.01 $ 107,004.24
Total rejected ballots 277 0.52 +0.20
Turnout 54,111 54.61 +26.09
Eligible voters 99,078   −6.36
Ontario provincial by-election, March 30, 2006: Nepean—Carleton
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Progressive Conservative Lisa MacLeod 17,312 57.57 +3.51 $  89,547.03
Liberal Brian Ford 9,455 31.44 −4.21 58,560.17
New Democratic Laurel Gibbons 2,487 8.27 +1.73 32,687.68
Green Peter V. Tretter 634 2.11 −1.65 852.94
Independent John Turmel 112 0.37   0.00
Freedom Jurgen Vollrath 73 0.24   0.00
Total valid votes/Expense Limit 30,073 100.0   −48.65 $ 114,226.16
Total rejected ballots 97 0.32 −0.13
Turnout 30,170 28.52 −33.71
Eligible voters 105,802   +11.91


  1. ^ Michael Coteau was Minister of Children and Youth Services and Minister of Community and Social Services.
  2. ^ Harinder Malhi was Minister of the Status of Women.


  1. ^ "Bell Presents the GOHBA Fall/Winter Political Series: Lisa MacLeod". Ottawa: Greater Ottawa Home Builders' Association. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  2. ^ Brennan, Richard; Benzie, Robert (July 19, 2006). "Backbencher Raises Ire of Atlantic Canada; Liberal MPP Suggests Region Is an Economic Underperformer". Toronto Star. p. A14.
  3. ^ Denley, Randall (April 1, 2006). "MacLeod Will Deliver for City". Ottawa Citizen. p. E1.
  4. ^ Pearson, Matthew (September 21, 2013). "A Political Paradox; Depending on Who You Talk to, Lisa MacLeod Is Either a Hard-Working MPP Who Cares Deeply About Her Community or a Partisan Attack Dog Whose Loyalty Is First to the Progressive Conservative Party". Ottawa Citizen. p. B1.
  5. ^ a b Reevely, David (September 24, 2003). "Varner Brings out the Big Guns: MacKay, Prentice Help Ottawa Centre Candidate". Ottawa Citizen. p. A8.
  6. ^ Mohammed, Adam (March 2, 2006). "Ex-Police Chief Seeks Liberal Nomination: Byelection Called for Nepean-Carleton". Ottawa Citizen. p. C3.
  7. ^ Lackner, Chris; Pilieci, Vito (March 31, 2006). "Tories' MacLeod Posts Easy Victory in Nepean-Carleton Byelection". Ottawa Citizen. p. F1.
  8. ^ "Summary of Valid Ballots Cast for Each Candidate" (PDF). Elections Ontario. October 10, 2007. p. 9 (xviii). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 7, 2009. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  9. ^ "Summary of Valid Ballots Cast for Each Candidate" (PDF). Elections Ontario. October 6, 2011. p. 10. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 30, 2013. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  10. ^ "General Election by District: Nepean—Carleton". Elections Ontario. June 12, 2014. Archived from the original on September 23, 2014.
  11. ^ "Conservatives, Including PM, Share Recipes for Cookbook". CTV News. 11 September 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  12. ^ "Catholic Schools' Opposition to Gay Clubs Revives Public-Funding Debate". National Post. 30 May 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  13. ^ "Kathleen Wynne Sues Tim Hudak, MPP Lisa MacLeod and PC Party". Toronto Star. 4 April 2014.
  14. ^ "Wynne, Hudak, and MacLeod resolve their legal differences". Toronto Star. July 9, 2015.
  15. ^ "Lisa MacLeod to Withdraw from Progressive Conservative Leadership Race". Toronto Star. February 5, 2015. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
  16. ^ "Tory MPP Lisa MacLeod Rules Out Run for John Baird's Federal Seat". Toronto Star. February 17, 2015. Retrieved February 17, 2015.
  17. ^ "Lisa MacLeod, MPP (Nepean—Carleton)". Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  18. ^ "Ontario Progressive Conservatives Shuffle Critic Roles After Patrick Brown Resignation". Global News. The Canadian Press. January 30, 2018. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  19. ^ Ferguson, Rob (August 1, 2018). "Ontario Minister Admits She Broke Election Promise When She Axed Basic Income Project". Toronto Star. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  20. ^ Loriggio, Paola (August 1, 2018). "Ontario Government Defends Move to Axe Basic Income Pilot Project". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  21. ^ "3 Rallies Planned Friday to Protest Changes to Ontario Autism Program". CityNews. February 15, 2019. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
  22. ^ Jones, Allison (February 13, 2019). "Therapists Say Lisa MacLeod Threatened Them If They Did Not Support New Autism Program". National Post. Toronto. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  23. ^ Helmer, Aedan (February 14, 2019). "Lisa MacLeod Rebuffs Calls for Resignation Following Blowback over Changes to Province's Autism Program". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  24. ^ "Summary of Valid Votes Cast for Each Candidate" (PDF). Elections Ontario. p. 7. Retrieved January 20, 2019.

External links[edit]

Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Preceded by
John Baird
Member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament
for Nepean—Carleton

Succeeded by
as MPP for Nepean
Succeeded by
Goldie Ghamari
as MPP for Carleton
Succeeded by
Marie-France Lalonde
as MPP for Orléans
Succeeded by
Merrilee Fullerton
as MPP for Kanata—Carleton
Preceded by
as MPP for Nepean—Carleton
Member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament
for Nepean

Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Coteau
as Minister of Children and Youth Services
and Minister of Community and Social Services
Ontario Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
Preceded by
Harinder Malhi
as Minister of the Status of Women
Ontario Minister Responsible for Women's Issues